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2013年2月28日 (木)

イタリア総選挙 欧州危機の再燃を招かないか

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Feb. 28, 2013)
Italy's political gridlock may reignite European crisis
イタリア総選挙 欧州危機の再燃を招かないか(2月27日付・読売社説)

Italy's latest election results indicate that Italians are strongly discontented with the government's fiscal reconstruction policy. The impending political turmoil threatens to ignite another crisis in Europe.

In the general election in which the administration of Prime Minister Mario Monti sought a public mandate for its reformist policies, the anti-austerity center-right coalition led by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi garnered more seats than anticipated.

The center-left coalition that generally supports the reformist line secured a narrow majority in the lower house. But in the Senate no political group won a clear majority.

Following the election results, the euro plunged on foreign exchange markets in Japan and the United States as the yen strengthened against the European common currency. Stock prices dropped across the board on global markets. These moves indicate a wariness over the prospect that the eurozone's third-largest economy could retreat from fiscal reconstruction.

The administration that was established by economist Monti in autumn 2011 and consists of technocrats tried to trim fiscal deficits through tax hikes and pension reforms. It also launched structural reforms, including a legal revision to create a flexible labor market.


Reforms fail to progress

Monti's reformist policies were received favorably by the markets but failed to make headway because they were not endorsed by center-right parties.

The center-right bloc was able to expand voter support by proposing such populist anti-austerity measures as a reexamination of the tax hikes.

The bloc apparently obtained support from voters critical of the increase in the jobless rate caused by the business slowdown.

A new party, which took existing parties to task over political corruption, fared well to become the third-biggest party. This reflects the people's deep-seated distrust of politics.

A focal point in the days to come will be how the center-left bloc moves to form a coalition government. The prospects of a grand coalition with the center-right bloc are uncertain because of wide policy differences.

The political stalemate could possibly be broken by holding another election. However, Italy's political turmoil is expected to continue for some time.


Bleak prospects ahead

It is highly questionable whether Italy will be able to stabilize its political situation.

Europe's fiscal and financial crisis, which was triggered by Greece, showed signs of abating after the European Central Bank purchased a large amount of government bonds and took other rescue measures since autumn.

However, the economic situation remains extremely sluggish in the eurozone and has fallen into negative growth territory. Future prospects remain stormy.

Financial unrest is smoldering in Spain and suspicions of illegal donations to its ruling party have emerged. A general election is scheduled for September in Germany in which Chancellor Angela Merkel's handling of the European crisis will become a bone of contention.

Italy's reforms must be prevented from falling by the wayside to avoid adversely affecting the world economy, let alone the eurozone.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 27, 2013)
(2013年2月27日01時27分  読売新聞)


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